I was excited to see Gramercy 24 (3d Ave at 24th St) open just a block down the street from me since the area is otherwise such a culinary wasteland. My bf and I were in a bit of a time crunch last night and decided to give the place a try at about 9:30. The space is large with wood floors and white table clothes. Nice but pretty unimaginative. When we walked in, only about a third of the tables in the restaurant were filled--the first bad omen of the night.
Our server promptly came by with menus. He was pleasant enough, but bad omen #2 was when he had to basically wrack his brain to remember the 2 specials of the night--literally red snapper (fish du jour) and spinach (vegetable du jour). Nothing about the presentation of these 2 dishes--just remembering red snapper and spinach seemed hard enough for him.
In any event, I ordered the mesclun salad with beets and asparagus for a first course. The dressing on the salad was basically straight vinegar (yuck). The beets were cut up canned beets that, rather than being sprinkled over the salad greens were inexplicably layered haphazardly under the salad. 3 steamed pieces of asparagus completed the dish.
Incidentally, the 2 glasses of wine we'd ordered came AFTER the salad because "the bar was busy." There was one person sitting at the bar when I looked over.
For entrees (which were slow to come), my bf got the ribeye steak ($23) and I got the salmon ($20) (I'm not a big salmon fan but got it for lack of a better option--very few varieties of fish on the menu). The piece of steak that I had was fatty and stringy, but my bf promised that the interior portions of the meat were better. The ribeye came with a side of "onion rings"--very thin, crispy, yet inexplicably greasy strings of onion that are served as a garnish at most other restaurants. My salmon was no better. It came with some kind of nut crust that was neither here nor there. The salmon itself just tasted off--it was surprisingly fishy and not at all rich or flavorful. The worst part of the entree, though, was the accompaniment. It was served atop a bed of vegetables (squash, spinach) that were steamed (?). They were utterly bland and flavorless--you could get better at a school cafeteria. These vegetables in turn were swimming in a pool of what tasted like campbell's tomato sauce (my bf said it tasted even worse).
After finishing what we could of our entrees, the bf and I had to wait about 15 minutes before somebody noticed and came by to bus the tables. At that point, one person came by with a tray and inexplicably cleared off just our entree plates. Another person came by seconds later to clear out our bread plates, bread basket, and silverware separately...??
B/c I have a huge sweet tooth, I decided to wait to order dessert and coffee despite the so-far disastrous meal. Even mediocre dessert is OK in my book. The server brought by menus and recommended the banana dumplings, which he said some diners had called the best dessert they'd ever had. WHAT?? The "dumplings" were 1 1/2 by 3/4 rectangles that were flat as a pancake (they must have contained one slice of banana a piece) and fried to such a crisp that it almost hurt to chew them. These were served with a dimunitive scoop of unexceptionable vanilla ice cream. In contrast to the "dainty" dessert, the "praline sauce" the dumplings and ice cream came with was spread 1/4 inch think over the entire plate. The sauce was (I kid you not) jar caramel sauce (the kind you put on a sundae!) with about a cup of ordinary pecans thrown in. I don't even know what the chef could have been thinking in putting this dish together.
Incidentally, it took about 10 minutes between when the waiter came by to give us dessert menus and when he came to take our orders, despite passing our table about 3 times and having only about 3 other tables he was waiting on. And, when my coffee came out, it came with sugar, no cream/milk. It was 5 mins before I got cream.
Gramercy 24 is a total DISASTER. The worst meal--from all points of view--that I've had in the 8 months that I've been back in NY. And at the cost of $96 (1 appetizer, 2 entrees, 2 glasses of wine, 1 dessert, 15% tip), it was very over priced. I don't know how this place is going to survive, and much as I like the addition of food options to my area, I don't think it deserves to.